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Wellington, New Zealand, 18 August 2008 â€“ The world’s leading merino wool technical outdoor apparel company, Icebreaker, today announced the successful completion of its purchase of its distributor in Switzerland and France, Rockline Nature Zone, and the creation of two new subsidiaries, Icebreaker Switzerland and Icebreaker France.
â€œOne in every three Icebreaker garments is now sold in Europe,â€ said Icebreaker Founder & CEO Jeremy Moon. â€œOur business continues to expand rapidly in Europe, which is now Icebreaker’s largest market. Our European outdoor customer is highly discerning when it comes to his or her apparel and also looking for companies that care about social and environmental ethics and animal welfare.â€
Kiwi Craig Stoddart founded Rockline Nature Zone in Switzerland in 1999 after noticing that his outdoor athlete friends there were starting to wear Icebreaker. He was looking for a business opportunity with people and products he could identify with and approached Moon about selling product. He wrote a business plan, and his first deliveries were to seven stores.
â€œThere had been no major innovation in outdoor clothing since synthetics took over from traditional wool,â€ recalls Stoddart. â€œIcebreaker’s merino product worked; the brand had style and the Swiss love New Zealand and nature and are innovative enough to give a good proposition a chance.â€
Stoddart, who will now become General Manager of Icebreaker Switzerland and France, reports that Icebreaker is now sold in more than 200 stores in Switzerland and, after only two years, carried by 80 retailers in France. The outdoor market in Switzerland is growing fast, with the ski resort industry taking strongly to Icebreaker, which continues to see double-digit growth. Icebreaker’s sales in France are seeing triple-digit growth. The company is also experiencing strong sales in the travel and casual wear segments.
Says Stoddart, â€œIcebreaker is a company with a product and a set of beliefs that I completely identify with: awe of nature, creativity, integrity, work hard play hard ethic, the importance of people and having fun, and that cheeky Kiwi sense of humor. The company oozes integrity â€“ from the simple, but incredible fabric that nature provided, to the talented group of people, who throw their hearts into their work life, and finally to the imagery and story-telling of the brand. That’s why this company rocks and why the brand is going places. Makes me proud to be a Kiwi!â€
Icebreaker product is now sold in the Europe in Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Iceland, the UK, Ireland, Germany, The Netherlands, Belgium, Luxemburg, France, Switzerland, Austria, Italy, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Russia, Poland and
The company has also been increasing its business in North America and opened its first Touch_Lab retail stores in the United States (Portland, Oregon) and in Montreal, Canada in 2007.
In June 2008, Icebreaker signed the biggest wool contract ever in New Zealand, worth approximately US$50 million. Moon said the company’s new Superfine range, coming out in September (AU) and October (NZ), will be the company’s best yet.â€¨ Icebreaker has led innovation in performance merino apparel, and the new t-shirts and undergarments are â€œwhisper thin.â€ The company added 90 employees worldwide in 2007 and now employs 200 people.
On 1 August 2008, Icebreaker launched its new Baacode traceability program in the United States and Canada. The system enables customers to follow their garments through every step of the production process, beginning on the New Zealand South Island sheep stations where the merino is grown and extending throughout its entire supply chain. Icebreaker Baacode expands to Europe in September and Australia and New Zealand, in October 2008.
Launched in 1994, Icebreaker was the first company in the world to develop a merino wool layering system for the outdoors. It was also the first outdoor apparel company in the world to source merino direct from growers, a system it began in 1997. There are now 10 distinct pure merino fabrics in the Icebreaker system, covering underwear, mid-layer, and outerwear.
Icebreaker is sold in nearly 2000 stores in 24 countries throughout Europe, Asia, Australasia and North America. Based in Wellington, New Zealand, Icebreaker uses only pure merino hand-picked from 120 high country stations in the country’s Southern Alps to create edgy outdoor clothing that combines nature’s work with human technology and design.